Outdoors: Engel's big fish wins Memorial

Todd Schultz caught a 10-pound walleye on Saturday near the Michigan City breakwall.

"He who catches big fish goes home through alley.'"

Nowadays, the old proverb might read more appropriately: "He who makes big catch shouldn't show up at a public fish cleaning station."

"We followed Break Time, they had the big catch yesterday," captain Dave Engel of Best Chance Too, admitted after winning the Buffalo Bill Memorial on Saturday.

"We just caught bigger fish than them," Engel said. "Not sure exactly how far from here, but it was northeast and in 200 to 220 feet of water."

The Break Time crew, which finished third on Saturday, arrived at the Washington Park Marina cleaning station late Friday with a substantial coho catch. Nothing unusual about the two-time Classic champs bringing in a huge haul. What was odd, is the salmon catching has been so bad around Michigan City the Break Time catch was easily triple what anyone else could muster in the days leading up to the contest.

Only three boats were able to fill the 10-fish limit on Saturday, despite a dozen or so of the 23 entrants fishing the distant, 200-foot depths where Break Time was rumored to make its Friday haul.

Michigan City's Dave Cox nearly pulled off a stunner. His Totally Crazy team of Brian Rain and dad Dennis Cox battled fish-for-fish with the tournament circuit crews, coming up a mere 1.6 pounds short of victory and finishing in second place.

"They ran about five miles east of us," Cox said. "Our best was 230 (feet of water) and the fish were hitting 60 to 100 feet down."

Engel mentioned plugs on top and Dreamweaver Super Slim spoons down deep took 20 coho, ten of which were culled for the winning score.

Although swaggering rights may be more important than cash winnings during the early Michigan City tournaments, first place in the Buffalo Bill paid $776, second $543 and third $233.

Big fish of the Buffalo Bill was a beastly 17-pound, eight-ounce chinook caught by Josh Wilson aboard his Under Dog. It was the only fish Wilson landed on the day, but it was good for a handsome $575.

"It hit a Moonshine Mongolian Beef (spoon) on bottom in 65 feet of water," Wilson said.

Most Outstanding Catch of the contest was made by Todd Schultz aboard his King Machine. Schultz caught a huge 10-pound walleye while trolling for salmon. "It grabbed an orange Fat Rap inside the (Michigan City) breakwall," Schultz said.

For the rare feat, Schultz received a pat on the back and the admiration of fellow anglers.

Next up for Lake Michigan contest trollers is the Pro/Am on Saturday and the Hartman Memorial on April 29. Both feature simple rules and five-fish limits. Complete information is at www.hoosiercohoclub.org.

Those events serve as competitive tune-ups for the 42nd annual Hoosier Coho Club Classic on April 30 to May 1.

The longest-running contest of its kind on the Great Lakes attracts teams from all four Lake Michigan states and awards over $40,000. Complete information is at www.hoosiercohoclub.org.

April 30 is also opening day of the Coho Capital Derby sponsored by the LaPorte County Convention & Visitors Bureau. The free, no preregistration required contest awards $100 for both the heaviest trout and heaviest salmon for five consecutive weeks through June 5. The largest salmon and largest trout overall receive an additional $500. For more information, see www.michigancitylaporte.com.

• Outdoor notes: Panfish, bass and catfish catches were outstanding the past week, although today's cooler temps are sure to set things backwards for a few days. Bluegill and crappie were in the top three or four feet near shore on most lakes, and roaming the inside edges of lily pad fields on some. Waxworms, wigglers, tiny jigs and wet flies were all taking some good-looking catches.

Bass were chasing down Rat-L-Traps and stick baits in the shallows, with a few big mamas plucked with jigs or Senko plastic worms along the drop offs. Catfish and bullheads were prowling the shallows, too.

Indiana's wild turkey season gets underway with the youth-only portion this weekend followed by April 27-May 15 regular season. Complete rules and regs are on the DNR's turkey page at www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/8695.htm.

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